It is hard to enforce rules and laws when problems are distributed across wide areas as is the case in Indonesia. What can be done then is to engage community management systems. Subdividing the poaching problem down to the local communities to resolve problems without a powerful central government has often brought with it much success. One such example is along the east coast of Africa which had some parts protected. Many local communities had depended on these areas before they were gazetted to be protected. The communities themselves had noticed a decline in the size and number of fish in the small areas around their communities. They then agreed to divide that area into a fishing area and a non-fishing area, allowing for the fish to propagate while they were still able to continue fishing for sustenance. However, such systems would only be possible if the community shared a sense of bonding and responsibility for each other. “Laws” for these types of systems would be informal but upheld because of the fear of being socially outcasted. This is increasingly difficult in a modernising society where families begin living apart while looking for better prospects in the cities and elsewhere. However, people who continue to live off the land can be educated on the interconnectivity of themselves, the animals and the greenery around them and thus be motivated to protect the animals and the land.
To promote the self-organisation of community managed systems, a few characteristics must be present.
The first category is that of resource characteristics. Firstly, the resource must have clear boundaries. In the case of the Indonesian forests, this would be highly difficult although not impossible. The government may enforce laws that state what animals should not be taken out and for those that can be taken out, how many. More money can be spent on hiring trustworthy patrol to ensure poachers do not take more than or any that they should not be taking. Also, there should be the ability to perceive any changes in the resource. To do this, a census of the animals in each forest may be carried out to have some sense of the number of each type of animals found there. Also, there should be no substitute for the resource, which is the case in poaching. It should also be costly for the community to leave the area when it is exhausted and the resources use should be manageable.
For group characteristics, the group should be stable with a limited population growth. The group should also be relatively closed with a thick social network and shared norms. Ease of information sharing, rules enforcement and conflict resolution is also important. Additionally, the community should know the resource well.
For the rule characteristics, the rules should be agreed upon by the community, not generated by a centralised and unknown third party. The rules have to be fair and controlled, monitored and enforced by the group itself. This decreases the sense of control by an external agent. Instead, coming up with your own rules makes you feel like you chose these rules and the motivation is internalised. Since these rules are agreed upon by small communities, they also have the luxury of changing them with conditions. In big groups like countries, it is often not a possible luxury for a case-by-case analysis when someone breaks the rule. More often than not, the punishment mete for a similar offence would be carried out. Built-in incentives for the rules would be an added bonus. Being able to identify the rule-breaker and punish them would be important too.
Sometimes the central government may play obstructing roles and can even disintegrate community management systems. However, it is not that the government would be unable to play a role in helping to manage the situation. They can help by making national laws that would give the community more “teeth” in their rules. In this co-management system, communities develop the system while the government plays a supporting role. However, what is important is that these rules are actively enforced and not slackened such that the poachers no longer see a disincentive in their behaviours.
To design effective incentives, the following points must be taken note of. The incentives must be large enough but not so large that it undermines internal motivation. These incentives should also match the barriers. For example, if cost is the barrier (as in the case of poaching), the incentives should address the cost issue by trying to lower it. Importantly, people should also notice the incentives for it to even work. Credible incentives that are politically acceptable is also key. People must believe that there is incentive in not poaching and when the incentives are politically acceptable, you will have the backing of the government. The incentives should be designed in such a way that it discourages evasion. This means that it will be difficult perpetrators to “opt out” of any punishments. Also vital is interacting with the people on the ground to understand their situation and so be better able to tailor a strategy relevant for them. Finally, continually assessing the programme will help one know whether the programme is going in the right direction and whether there have been progress at all.